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An update on our efforts to support the COVID-19 conversation in India

By Twitter India
Thursday, 29 April 2021

India is dealing with a deadly second wave of COVID-19, and we have been humbled to watch a positive people’s movement take shape on Twitter. Individuals have come together to lend a hand, support and connect each other to life-saving facilities, medicines and food. As Indians face this second wave together, we want to share what Twitter is doing to help.

Helping you find credible information

Event Pages: As we’ve watched these conversations unfold, we are working to surface the most relevant, important and valuable information that could help save lives. Last week, we launched a dedicated COVID-19 hub that you can navigate to via the Explore tab. Here you can find a series of live event pages, Public Service Announcements (PSAs), debunks and more. 

The COVID-19 SOS page helps surface information from those offering or seeking immediate help during this crisis. We have also built a series of Twitter Moments to help you get the facts from the most reliable sources, because we know not all the information you see on the service is credible. These dedicated Moments about vaccine safety, how to stay safe and more, include detailed and accredited information from organisations like the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare India (MoHFW) and World Health Organization (WHO), among others. 

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Lists: Twitter Lists curate all the Tweets from accounts on that list in one place, making it easy to navigate and keep up with specific accounts during fast-moving events. We have curated a series of Twitter Lists of health authorities, public health experts, health journalists, fact-checkers, and other authoritative sources, so you can stay up to date about information during the second wave of the pandemic. We’ve also created a List of verified organisations who are engaging in COVID-19 relief work that you can follow on Twitter. 

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Prompts: As India opens up vaccination to everyone above the age of 18 years on May 1st, you may be looking for up-to-date, localised information about vaccine safety, vaccine eligibility, and more. To meet this need, we’re expanding our efforts to surface credible COVID-19 information with home Timeline prompts featuring the latest information about COVID-19 vaccines in both English and Hindi.

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Enabling access to the Twitter API to build tools in real-time: As a uniquely public and open service, we have seen developers build tools on top of Twitter to address the needs of citizens in this crisis in real-time. We want to empower these developers to build solutions as quickly and effortlessly as they can, and encourage them to apply for access to the Twitter API. Should academics or researchers want to study Tweets related to COVID-19 in real-time or historically, we can enable this via our Academic Research track on the Twitter API. 

Protecting the public conversation with our policies 

We are committed to protecting the public conversation, and our policies help us do that. A global team of specialists are working around the clock to make it easy to find credible information on Twitter and to limit the spread of potentially harmful and misleading content.

COVID-19 Misinformation Policy: We know people are concerned about misinformation circulating on the service in the midst of a public health crisis, and we want to ensure we are clear when articulating our policies. We tackle COVID-19 misinformation based on the highest potential for harm using a combination of product, technology, and human review. In order for content related to COVID-19 to be labeled or removed under this policy, it must:

  • Advance a claim of fact, expressed in definitive terms
  • Be demonstrably false or misleading, based on widely available, authoritative sources
  • Be likely to impact public safety or cause serious harm

As of 1 March 2021, following the update to our COVID-19 misleading information policy regarding misleading information about vaccines, we apply a label warning on Tweets that advance unsubstantiated rumors and disputed claims, as well as incomplete or out-of-context information about vaccines. Tweets which advance harmful false or misleading narratives about COVID-19 vaccinations will continue to be removed.

COVID-19 Ads Policies: Since the beginning of the pandemic, Twitter has restricted advertising containing implicit or explicit reference to COVID-19. We allow promotion of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and test kits from approved healthcare advertisers. We also permit PSAs related to COVID-19 from governments and supranational entities (for example, WHO), as well as trusted partners approved and vetted by our team. 

Our work with government and nonprofit organisatons

In the last few weeks, we have seen both Central and State governments, official authorities and law enforcement agencies turning to Twitter. They are using it more than ever as a means to keep the public informed, to address concerns, to provide access to healthcare services, and to offer help and other resources. As this crisis escalates, we will continue to support a range of government authorities with these public service initiatives. This includes working with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to support a dedicated handle, @CovidIndiaSeva, which is enabling more transparent real-time e-governance delivery; the Ministry is able to communicate effectively and at scale with individual citizens to address urgent health-related queries. We've supported and enabled multiple state governments to set-up similar dedicated COVID-19 response accounts. 

In the event we receive more requests to withhold content from the Government of India within the country, we will continue to engage openly and constructively based on our overarching commitment to serve the public conversation during a crisis. We notify the account holder directly so they’re aware that we’ve received a legal order pertaining to the account by sending a message to the email address associated with the account(s), if available, unless we are prohibited from doing so. We also clearly indicate on Twitter when content has been withheld and publish requests to withhold content on Lumen database — a level of transparency that is unique in the industry, unless, similar to our practice of notifying users, we are prohibited from doing so.

We’re currently matching Tweep donations at 300% to a range of organisations including Oxfam India, Akshay Patra Foundation, Child Rights and You and Rise Against Hunger India. We have made a separate $100K donation to the Hemkunt Foundation to support their work in donating oxygen cylinders to those in need. Twitter is also supporting non-profits and organisations such as Rapid Response, Swasti, IndiaSpend, Youth Ki Awaaz, and Ketto with Ads for Good grants to help amplify their critical work. 

We’ve also launched an emoji that will be available globally to highlight the impact of this second wave. The emoji is representative of the support people have extended to each other on Twitter and is available in 11 Indian languages, including Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. Hashtags that activate it include #COVID19IndiaHelp, #COVIDEmergencyIndia and #COVIDIndiaSOS

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Our approach

Access to the Open Internet has never been more critical than during this crisis. Our approach to serving the public conversation is always evolving, and we are adapting our service in real-time to address emerging needs during this ongoing healthcare crisis. We will continue to update this blog post with relevant information, and any changes in our approach as we move forward. 

We’re grateful to our Tweeps in India and their families, our extraordinary not-for-profit partners, activists, civil society groups, journalists and news media organisations, the developers that have been building tools on top of our platform to support COVID relief work on Twitter, and every person in India and around the world who has used our service to help the country and its people in this time of need. You teach us, inspire us, and help make Twitter better.

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